Model UN Preparation
Caucusing, or informal debate, is an important part of the Model UN simulation because it provides an opportunity for delegates to collaborate, negotiate and formulate draft resolutions. During a Model UN conference, caucuses can be either moderated or unmoderated.
When a committee holds a moderated caucus, the Chair calls on delegates one at a time and each speaker briefly addresses the committee. During an unmoderated caucus, the committee breaks for a temporary recess from formal proceedings so that delegates can work together in small groups. To hold a caucus, a delegate must make a motion and the committee must pass the motion.
Many delegates prefer to speak during a moderated caucus rather than being placed on the speaker's list. In a moderated caucus, speakers are usually able to convey one or two key points to the entire committee or share new ideas that have developed through the course of debate. A delegate sometimes chooses to make a motion for a moderated caucus if his or her name is close to the end of the speakers list. By speaking in a moderated caucus, delegates are able to address the committee much earlier.
In most cases, more than half of committee time is used for unmoderated caucusing. Many delegates feel this is the easiest way for them to collaborate and start to formulate draft resolutions.
Tips for Effective Caucusing
- Enter the caucus with a plan in mind: Formulate ideas on what your country would like to see included in a resolution. Decide which clauses you are willing to negotiate on and which you are not.
- Find delegates in your regional bloc: This is the easiest way to seek out allies. However, if you find that the group you are working with is not meeting your needs, do not be afraid to switch groups.
- Provide ideas: Tell others what your country is hoping to achieve. If you do not agree with an idea, do not hesitate to say that it is against your country's policy.
- Negotiate: While it is often necessary to give up something that you want, make sure that you are not giving up anything too important.
- Listen: By listening to what others are saying you will able to build on other people's ideas and add more to the discussion. Listening also shows respect for each delegate in your group.
- Do not interrupt: Allow other delegates to finish their thoughts rather than interrupting others in the middle of a sentence. It sometimes helps to write down your idea so that you can bring it up when the delegate is finished speaking.
- Record ideas: Start to formulate a resolution in writing. Rather than waiting until the last minute, begin recording fellow delegates' ideas right away.
- Be resourceful: By providing fellow delegates with resolution text, maps or information as they need it, you will show that you are valuable to the group.
- Have one-on-one conversations: Speaking with an individual or in a small group is the best way to find out a delegate's position on an issue. Larger groups are better suited to brainstorming.
- Stay calm: In caucuses, delegates can sometimes "lose their cool." Staying calm will not only help your group be more effective, but will be noticed by the conference staff. Always keep your voice at a normal level. If you see that you are becoming upset or raising your voice, excuse yourself from the group for a few minutes.
- Use time effectively: Make sure you have enough time to hear everyone's ideas so that you can discuss them during formal debate. Try not to waste time arguing over small details that do not seriously affect the draft resolution.
- Show respect: Never give orders or tell other delegates what they should or should not do. Be polite and treat all your fellow delegates with respect.
- Provide constructive critique: Rather than negatively criticizing another delegate, focus on providing constructive critique. If you dislike an idea, try to offer an alternative. Critique ideas, not people.
- Establish connections with other delegates: Although it can be tempting to call a fellow delegate "Pakistan," "Brazil" or "Sweden", you can form a better connection with a delegate by learning his or her name and where he or she comes from. Ask the delegate about his or her ideas and impressions of the debate. Showing interest in your fellow delegates at the beginning of the conference will help you gain more support later on and can help you to form lasting friendships.